Mr. Rogers' Honors Physics

Syllabus 1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter
Waves (14)
Sound (15)
E-Fields (21)
Electricity (22) & Circuits (23)
Magnetics (24) & (25)

Sound-- Chapter 15

Relevance: Waves are the key to understanding modern wireless communication, musical instruments, and optics.

SC Standards :


P-6.1 Summarize the production of sound and its speed and transmission through various media.
P-6.2 Explain how frequency and intensity affect the parts of the sonic spectrum.
P-6.3 Explain pitch, loudness, and tonal quality in terms of wave characteristics that determine what is heard.
P-6.4 Compare intensity and loudness.
P-6.5 Apply formulas to determine the relative intensity of sound.
P-6.6 Apply formulas in order to solve for resonant wavelengths in problems involving open and closed tubes.
P-6.7 Explain the relationship among frequency, fundamental tones, and harmonics in producing music.
P-6.8 Explain how musical instruments produce resonance and standing waves.
P-6.9 Explain how the variables of length, width, tension, and density affect the resonant frequency, harmonics, and pitch of a vibrating string.


Practice Test Study Guide


Essential Question: Are there sounds in outer space?

Properties and Detection of Sound

  1. State that sound waves are a longitudinal pressure wave.
  2. State that the speed of sound depends on the medium it is transmitted through.

    high density: slows a wave down because the media the wave passes through has more inertia

    high stiffness (unit of force per unit of deformation): speeds a wave up

    Media Stiffness (bulk modulus of elasticity, N/m^2) Density (kg/m^2) Speed of Sound (m/s)
    air 5 (10^4) 1.2 340
    water 2 (10^9) 1000 1500
    steel 2 (10^11) 7850 6100


  3. Explain why the wavelength of a sound is altered when it is transmitted through different media because the frequency is not. Since frequency (number of peaks per second) is constant, wave length is directly proportional to the speed of sound in a material as shown:

    l = (1/f) v

    where f = a constant

  4. Explain the difference between hearing by bone transmitted sound vs. air transmitted sound.

    Historical Relevance: Although Beethoven was considered deaf, the problem with his hearing was primarily due to a loss of air transmission hearing. He affixed a metal rod to his piano so that he could press his head against it and still hear by bone conduction. Nevertheless, this would have distorted the sound he was able to hear. One can only wonder how this affected his compositions.

  5. Explain why a noise transmitted in water sounds different (somewhat lower pitched) than the same noise transmitted in air. The wavelength of a sound traveling in water will be longer than a wavelength traveling in air.
  6. Explain why audible sound could not be transmitted through outer space. (see Stokes' law of sound attenuation.)

    extreme low density of space: While there is some matter in outer space, the density is near zero causing sound to be almost instantly attenuated (reduced to essentially zero loudness).

    extremely low frequency mechanical waves are attenuated less: these extremely low frequency waves can travel longer distances but are far below human hearing levels.

  7. Solve problems using the speed of sound. v = l f

    given any two of the quantities v, l, or f solve for the third


Homefun (formative/summative assessment): Read sections 14.1, practice problems 1, 3, 5 page 405



Formative Assessment: Physics Investigation

Research Question  
Data, Calculations  

Follow up Questions




Essential Question: If 2 loud noise sources are turned on at the same time, will the combined noise be twice as large as the individual noise?


Perceiving Sound

  1. State that with respect to air transmitted sounds, pitch depends on the frequency of the sound.

  2. State that the range of human hearing is roughly from 20 to 16,000 Hz.

  3. State that ultrasound is any sound with a frequency above the frequency range of human hearing.

  4. State that loudness is measured using a nonlinear scale with a unit called the decibel (dB). Note that the perception of loudness also depends on the specific frequency.

    (sound level in dB) = 10 log (P1/Po)


    Po = the power output of the most faintly heard sound

    P1 = the power output of the measured sound

  5. Demonstrate mathematically that adding 2 sound of equal power, in other words doubling the total sound power, will raise the level of loudness by only 3 dB, a barely perceptible increase.

    Relevance: Quieting a loud noise is a very difficult process requiring a high level of engineering expertise.


  6. State that a 10 dB increase in sound loudness is typically perceived as a doubling of loudness.

  7. State that the pain level is at about 125 dB while while sustained noise levels at only about 90 dB can produce permanent hearing loss. Generally, permanent hearing damage is a function of the loudness and length of time of a sound. Very loud sounds do damage in much less time.

Relevance: Music playing in ear phones can easily exceed noise levels known to produce permanent hearing loss. Maximum loudness levels at rock concerts can reach 150 dB.


  1. State that hearing protection generally comes in two forms ear plugs and ear muffs and explain why they can only reduce sound loudness by about 45 dB when used in combination. Hearing protection typically only reduces air transmitted sounds.


Homefun (formative/summative assessment) .


Essential Question: How can the police measure the speed of your car?

Doppler Effect

  1. Describe the Doppler effect for both light and sound. In the diagrams shown below, visualize the waves as moving outward from the red dot at the center.

    f = f0[ |v - vr| / |v - vs| ]


    v = velocity of wave in the medium (air for sound)

    vr = velocity of the receiver of the wave

    vs= velocity of the source of the wave

    f0= frequency of the wave when vr= vs=0

    Doppler effect

    For moving source, wave length changes--shorter when moving toward, longer when moving away

    For moving receiver, velocity changes--faster when moving toward, longer when moving away

  2. Calculate frequencies using the Doppler effect equation.

Relevance: The Doppler effect is used in numerous applications for measuring speed. These include radar systems used by traffic police, blood flow measurements and the measurement of the movements of stars and galaxies.

Homefun (formative/summative assessment): problems 6, 7, 8, page 409


Essential Question: How do musical instruments work?


  1. Explain the concept of resonance and state the conditions necessary for resonance to occur.
    • Energy is continuously added to an object in sync with one of its natural frequency and at a rate that is faster than the vibrational energy is converted into heat.
    • The amplitude of the object's vibration increases until the object breaks or begins emitting or loosing energy in some manner.
  1. Define the term damping and state how it affects resonance. Damping is the process of doing work so that a vibration's mechanical energy is converted into heat. If the damping is high enough, an object will not resonate. The damping force that does work acts in the opposite direction of velocity.
  2. Give examples of resonant systems.


    • swing--for large angles, the resonant frequency changes, hence limiting the amplitude
    • pendulum--for large angles, the resonant frequency changes, hence limiting the amplitude
    • spring and mass
    • pipe organ
    • bells


    • antennae
    • LC circuit
  3. Explain a simple way to experimentally evaluate an object's resonant frequency if it has little or no internal damping. Hit it with a hammer or in other words, give it a pulse of energy and analyze the frequencies of the resulting vibrations.
  4. Note that fundamental frequency and first harmonic are interchangeable terms. An object's natural frequencies are the same thing as its harmonics.
  5. Solve problems involving the fundamental and higher harmonic modes.
  • stretched strings

  • open pipes

  • closed pipes

Relevance: Virtually all musical instruments work on the principles of resonance. Antennas are often designed to resonate as are the tuning and broadcasting electronics attached to them. In machine design, systems are often designed to avoid resonance. since the resulting vibrations can cause mechanical failures..

Homefun (formative/summative assessment): problems 6, 7, 8, page 409


Essential Question: How can you best prepare for the test?


Formative Assessments:

  1. Work review problems at the board

  2. Work practice problems.

Metacognition Problem Solving Question: Can I still work the problems done in class, several hours or days later? Some amount of repetition on the exact same problems is necessary to lock in learning. It is often better to thoroughly understand a single example of a problem type than to work example after example understanding none of them completely.

Relevance: Good test preparation is essential to performance in physics class.

Homefun (formative/summative assessment): turn in on the day stapled to the back of the test.

Summative Assessment: Unit exam objectives 1-23


SAM Team--Southside High School's STEM and Computer Science extra-curricular club (Mr. Rogers Sponsor)

Mr. Rogers' Twitter Site

Mr. Rogers Teacher's Blog

Mr. Rogers T-shirts

Mr. Rogers Information for Teachers

Mr. Rogers Science Fair Information

Check out other web sites created by Mr. R:

Check out Articles by Mr. Rogers:

Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics is one of the most humorous, entertaining, and readable physics books available, yet is filled with all kinds of useful content and clear explanations for high school, 1st semester college physics students, and film buffs.

It explains all 3 of Newton's laws, the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics, momentum, energy, gravity, circular motion and a host of other topics all through the lens of Hollywood movies using Star Trek and numerous other films.

If you want to learn how to think physics and have a lot of fun in the process, this is the book for you!


First the web site,

now the book!

Mr. Rogers Home | Common Sylabus | AP Comp Sci I | AP Comp Sci II | AP Physics Mech | AP Physics E&M | AP Statistics | Honors Physics|IB Design Tech | Southside

[ Intuitor Home | Physics | Movie Physics | Chess | Forchess | Hex | Intuitor Store |

Copyright 1996-2011 T. K. Rogers, all rights reserved. Forchess is a registered trademark of T. K. Rogers.
No part of this website may be reproduced in any form, electronic or otherwise, without express written approval.